Reading Journal Entry: Lost Girls, by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie

Ha, ha, I have Lost Girls and you don't. The first printing sold out the day it hit the stores. Luckily I had it pre-ordered.

OK, how do I review a book of pornography without terminally embarrassing myself and my parents, both of whom (at least according to my IP logs) read this regularly?

Mom and Dad: you can read this review. But I don't want to talk about it, EVER, and I'm not under any circumstances going to lend it to you.

First, the physical object. Beautiful. Absolutely fantastic. I hadn't seen any pics of the cover so I was expecting something all black and serious and not girly and fun. They are magnificently bound and produced volumes. They even smell good.

Artistically: Perfect for the subject matter, impressive design, the perfect marriage of art and words to convey story.

The story: Three women named Alice, Wendy, and Dorothy meet in a hotel in Austria on the eve of the first World War. Do those names ring a bell? Moore and Gebbie give us Alice as an older member of the English aristocracy; Wendy as a middle-aged, middle-class Edwardian housewife; and Dorothy as a windblown farm girl fresh from Kansas. They progress from sexual repression to bawdy smut as the political atmosphere goes from twilight innocence to threatening, stormy skies.

Each woman tells her story - and oh, what stories they are. Alice is first molested, then seduced by a schoolmistress and drawn into a corrupt ring of drug addiction and underage sex. Wendy and her little brothers are introduced to sex by a group of boys they meet in the park (the ring-leader, of course, is named Peter). Dorothy has her encounters with the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man before finally confronting the Wizard himself.

I've seen people comment that this was the dirtiest thing they've ever read, which to me says they haven't been exposed to much anime. The worst things in here are multi-partner sex, some mild bestiality, incest, golden showers, and of course, tons and tons of underage sex.

Moore inserts an ironic commentary, from Monsieur Rougeur, the proprietor of the scandalous hotel, after reading a piece of work that I can only call 'the porn within the porn'. "You see, if this were real, it would be horrible. Children raped by their trusted parents. But they are fictions. They are uncontaminated by effect and consequence. Why, they are almost innocent."

The three women leave the hotel, much as they were cast out of the arena of the erotic in their previous lives. Alice leaves the precious mirror that she's carried with her on all her travels since childhood. "I once thought part of me was stuck inside it, but now. We've rescued her." They've reached some fulfillment. But the hotel is destroyed, and Europe is engulfed in war. Do 'beautiful and imaginative things...blossom, even in wartime'?

It's hard to blossom when you're dead. I think the ending acknowledges that masterfully.

4 comments:

Maxine said...

Strong stuff indeed. Just as well it is sold out;-)

I bought "league of extrodinary gentlemen" for Cathy a couple of years ago for xmas via Amazon (so did not look at it first), as she likes the movie. I wondered why a colleague at work looked at me askance when I mentioned this. So I looked in the book, and realised why. Terrible mother, I must be. (But "league" sounds tame compared with your review of his latest.)

mapletree7 said...

How old is Cathy?

I found that my parents thought I was being exposed to much less graphic things than I actually was. They let me check out anything I wanted from the library, after all. They forbade me from reading Time Enough For Love until I was 16 and told me it was because it was too explicit. I obeyed them, and then was terribly disappointed when I finally read it, because it was so tame.

And oh, yes, most of what Moore writes is NOT pornography. This is special. He wrote it with his partner so I imagine it is, ehm, a work of love.

Richard Mason said...

One time my mother and my sister read my copy of Watchmen (all of it? part of it?) and then tried to give me guff because it had occasional nudity and didn't have strong female characters or something. I don't know, I just stared at them blankly.

And now I recall a similar experience in college when the girls down the hall found my copy of The Killing Joke and took me to task for its fetishistic scenes of sadism. Oh, Alan Moore, you keep getting me in trouble with the ladies.

banana said...

Mom took me to see The Piano at the Astra when I was 12. 'Nough said.